1st June: Liverpool become Champions of Europe
Unlike many of the events on this list, if you ask anyone where they were on 1st June, they probably won’t recall watching the abjectly dull match which brought an end to the 2018-2019 Champions League, with Liverpool goals at either end sandwiching long spells of Tottenham possession. However, it was nevertheless significant, not only for crowning Liverpool champions of Europe for the sixth time (double the victories of their rivals Manchester United), but for capping off a tournament dominated by some of the most memorable European club matches in recent history. Ajax’s remarkable run to the semi finals took them past Real Madrid and Juventus, where they were eliminated in unlikely fashion by Spurs, who themselves had beaten Manchester City on away goals in a thrilling second leg 4-3 loss at the Etihad. The Final struggled to live up to the excitement and intensity of the other matches of the competition, but Liverpool must be admired for their victory, even more so after they added the UEFA Super Cup and 2019 World Club Cup to their trophy cabinet.
11th June: Women’s World Cup 13-0 Record
June saw the heaviest defeat in World Cup history as an unstoppable USA triumphed 13-0 in a “thumping” match against Thailand in the opening game in France. Goals came thick and fast for the best ranked team in the world, who scored, on average, every seven minutes. Alex Morgan scored five times for the Americans, bolstered by Rose Lavelle and Samantha Lewis, with six goals coming in a breathless closing sixteen minutes. This created an atmosphere charged with shock and awe in Reims. While hardly a surprise win for one of the best funded teams at the tournament, the manner of victory was astounding, and it is unlikely that it will be surpassed at a major international tournament in the future.
1st July: Breakout star Coco Gauff at Wimbledon
Teenage dreams really can come true and did for 15 year old American Coco Gauff at Wimbledon. She broke history as the youngest athlete to qualify for the main draw and proved herself as the one-to-watch when she beat the world renowned Williams sister, Venus, in straight sets (6-4 6-4). Although she is recognised as the 68th best player in the world, this victory against Williams cemented her as a true contender, as she is the youngest player to win in the first round of the ladies’ singles since 1991.
14th July & 25th August: Ben Stokes Magic
It would be difficult to recall English sport in the summer of 2019 without allocating significant time to the two legendary moments provided in successive months by Ben Stokes. The first was in July, when England hosted the World Cup. Requiring two sixes in the final over simply to level the Final, Stokes then led the charge in the Super Over as England scored 15, equalled by New Zealand, and the result was determined on the number of boundaries scored in the match. With the boundary comeback rule now abolished by the ICC in future events, this will never be repeated. And just as Stokes has provided one of the most memorable moments in recent international sport, he outdid even himself at the second ashes test a month later. England, bowled out for 67 in their first innings, achieved their highest winning total in history with a second innings score of 362-9 to level the series at 1-1. This was largely thanks to Stokes, who scored 135. Credit must also be given to the unlikely cameo played by Jack Leach, whose partnership with Stokes saw 76 runs scored – 1 by Leach, 75 by Stokes – both cementing their places as sporting legends.
6th August: The Time Trial to Change the History of the Transcontinental Race
Are women as able as men? The age-old question answered was assertively by Fiona Kolbinger. The German Cancer Researcher is the first woman ever to win the Transcontinental Cycling Race. She stole the victory from Ben Davies by close to six hours, managing to ride across Europe in an awe-inspiring 10 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes. Thrashing a field of 224 men and 40 women, this athlete demonstrated that women are just as capable as men when given the right training, opening up the sport to more head-to-head intergender competition.
12th August: Nike Changes Maternity Policy
It may not be a sporting event, but it certainly was one of the most memorable moments of the year in sport: athletes Alysia Montano, Kara Goucher and Allyson Felix’s bravely calling out Nike for their inadequate maternity policies. These forced athletes back into training straight after giving birth and held back on sponsorship until the athletes returned to competition. The trio shared their stories individually, and as a result, have improved the rights for many athletes as major changes in Nike’s Maternity Policy have been made. Now, female athletes will not be “adversely impacted financially for pregnancy” for 18 months, which is 6 months more than the previous policy allowed for. This demonstrated how powerful sharing can be and implies that women are finally being taken more seriously in sport.
2nd October: Dina Asher-Smith sets British Record
Although there were many issues surrounding attendance at the World Championships at Doha, there was a strong contingent of Union Jacks in the stadium to celebrate the first British Gold medal in sprinting since Linford Christie in 1993. In a British Record of 21.88 seconds, Asher-Smith was never in doubt. While many saw victory as a formality in the build-up to the race, this should not take away from this stellar achievement.
4th October: Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s new British Heptathlon Record
In an excellent few days for British female athletes with double-barrelled surnames, Doha was stunned as the heptathlon was won by Katarina Johnson-Thompson who blew Belgian Nafissatou Thiam out of the water with a landslide victory of 204-points, the best in the sport since 1987. In her mission to beat her main competitor, she set four personal bests and managed to surpass household name Jessica Ennis-Hill’s 2012 British record of 6,955 for a total of 6,981, putting her sixth in the all-time Heptathlon records.
12th October: Kipchoge’s Marathon
Yes, it did not set an official record. Yes, it involved a team of runners working for around him. And no, it was not an open event using the standard rules. But Eliad Kipchoge’s remarkable marathon time of 1:59:40 remains the Roger Bannister moment of our generation. Working with a team including Team Sky’s Sir Dave Brailsford and with the backing of Britain’s richest person Jim Ratcliffe, Kipchoge ran through 26 miles and 385 yards of Vienna in a time many had long deemed impossible. An incredible feat of endurance, it set a standard of human performance that will be difficult to surpass. With every detail calculated, including the use of a revolutionary inverse running formation, this event set a notable record in what some would describe at the purest form of sport.
19th & 26th October: England Come Close in Japan
On successive Saturday mornings, the England men’s rugby team won stunning victories against Australia and New Zealand to make their first World Cup Final since 2007. Barely tested until the quarter final, The Wallabies were ruthlessly dispatched by a score of 40-16, with England holding a commanding lead for much of the game. In a more than convincing attacking performance, it was the young back row pairing of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill who were given the most praise as fans began to dream that a team from the Northern Hemisphere could lift the World Cup for only the second time. This match’s elevation as one of the finest England performances in recent memory lasted just a week before it was completely overshadowed by victory against New Zealand. Simply for the iconic image of Owen Farrell smiling in the face of the Haka, let alone the stunning victory that followed, this game will live long in the memory. The All Black’s had not lost a World Cup match in 12 years before Eddie Jones’ side pulled off a classic underdog victory, leading from the second minute through a Manu Tuilagi try and taking them to the Final. It was not to be against a blistering South African side, but this remained a fine tournament for English rugby.
We recognise that these moments barely scratch the surface when it comes to the entire year of sport, however we feel that these events are significant not only in demonstrating athletic potential and excellence, but also in making the field of sport more accessible for future generations. Honourable mentions should also go to Australian batsman Steve Smith, for his impressive record over the course of the year, Tiger Woods, for winning his first major tournament in a decade, and swimmer Caeleb Dressel, who won a record eight medals at the World Aquatics Championships